Yesterday afternoon I was busy counting down the hours until I can rid myself of using a car daily, as if the slab of steel were a benign tumor being removed. For those who don’t know, I’m taking all things Mildly Relevant to downtown Cleveland, where I’ll be within walking distance of my day job, trains and buses. One of the reasons I opted for this location was the amount of time I’ll save not driving, which became a plus due to my distaste of commutes. (Seriously, how many hours of our lives are we going to waste in our boxes-with-wheels?). If I could play public transit God for a moment, I would create more lines for our train system – the Rapid. So I tweeted out something nonchalant about wanting an extension of the Rapid going due west for stops in Lakewood and Rocky River – two lovely suburbs that would be within the city limits of most mid-to-large towns. Shortly thereafter, the Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority’s twitter account (@GCRTA) tweeted me, “Much as we might want to, the current Federal budget talks are actually trying to CUT transit funding by 30% – speak up!” It’s then – and only then- that I realized that public transit must be a luxury of the poor!
Think about it. Poor people are the only ones who EVER use public transit (except in thriving metropolises, like New York City and Chicago), and it’s usually services that help the poor that are the first to go when politicians suddenly feel like being fiscal hawks. But why would we want to transport such depressing humans across a city in the first place? And why in the name of all that is holy would we want to reward those lazy people (some of which working two jobs a day) with the luxury of a machine that picks them up and drops them off where they need to go?
Most of my readers from out of town probably don’t know much about Cleveland, but it is in the middle of a wonderful renaissance. Like any city, we have our share of poor, middle-class and affluent neighborhoods. It seems we’d best serve ourselves by segregating (history’s most effective building block!) the poor people to their community by removing their only means of getting around (we can trash their bikes, too). Other cities will then follow our example of creating a leper colony of poor people that no one can get in and out. At this point, we’ll only have to worry about cutting loose a guilty conscience! (Along with anything else we later realize helps poor people get along). I imagine cutting the conscience loose will be easier if we can reward all of the affluent folks with new cars, preferably with tinted windows so folks can literally go from their house, to their car and to their destination without catching a mere few seconds of sunshine. You want have to socialize with anyone and you can finally only worry about yourself! Mankind was made for this. It reminds me of one of my favorite biblical passages: “Thou shalt give two shits about anyone else!” Get on it Congress!
If by some odd chance you’re not persuaded by the bullet proof argument above, then take a look at the United Kingdom. Last night, I spent some time on Google Maps testing out their public transit system. Seems you can go back and forth from just about any mid-to-large city in the whole of the United Kingdom with ease. Originally that sounded like a dream. Why, until I realized the err of my ways (I used to think a car-free existence was HEALTHY for God sakes!), I was dreaming of a day when we’d have rail connecting Chicago to Cleveland to Toronto or New York City and D.C.! I was one of those pesky young professionals chastising our governor’s decision to rid ourselves of the 3-C Corridor that would have connected Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati with rail. But now that I have seen the light, I’ll be damned if I’ll let the United States become anything like the United Kingdom – which is, of course, one of the poorest nations on the globe, no doubt thanks to their extensive transit system! I’ll shield myself from less fortunate folks with my car and continue pissing fumes into the mouth of Mother Earth, thank you very much!
Alas, it might be too late for me. I’ve already signed a lease and am set to move downtown, a mere seven minute walk from work, tomorrow. Perhaps there’s hope, though. Perhaps I can call my Congressman and push for deeper cuts in transit (who cares if the bill won’t get passed by the House or Senate. We’re making a point!!!) and move out to some remote exburb, furthering my current commute of 30+ minutes to something closer to an hour. That way, I can look back on all of the quality hours I’ve spent in my box-with-wheels when I’m on my deathbed, pondering how many glorious days I’ve accumulated in commuting. Best of all, I can look back on how I was able to limit my interaction with people of a different socioeconomic background. Never again will I have to experience the awkwardness when some pour soul asks me for spare change. (Don’t they realize how it makes me feel when they disrupt me?) They can go back to their poverty-colony, and I can rest comfortably in my exburb, urging fiscal cuts in programs I don’t use and sleep soundly as if the problems of society no longer exist, because I drove further away from them!
EDIT: I sincerely apologize, but I forgot to address the concern that these poor folks will no longer have access to… y’know… grocery stores. Fear not! I’m sure the charitable folks over at McDonalds would be happy to build another facility in the new poverty-colony. Personally, I’d prefer a ripoff burger joint. Don’t want to be too generous!